Today we live in the shadow of a disease whose name will be etched in history as “The Great China Pandemic”, Covid-19.
Its timing marks a unique anniversary. For it’s been just over 18 years since another terror wrecked the world. What makes it unique is with it comes the maturation of the first modern day generation born in wartime to reach adulthood: The 9/11ers.
They were not just born into the futility of an ongoing War on Terror. They’ve since lived the spread of extremism, the re-emergence of Communism, the Capitalist exploitation of Communist Chinese cheap labour called “Globalisation”, and the concept that US corporations are “too big to fail”.
And now, those same 18-22-year-olds are caught up in another epic disaster: an existential health crisis without cure.
They’re seeing their schools, colleges and universities close; their sources of income evaporate; their clubs and social venues shutter; and their yearnings for inclusion and love fade distant. It’s like they simply haven’t had a chance to get ahead of the curve.
It’s hit every generation really. Boomers being the most vulnerable of all. Let’s not forget that they gave us Hippie culture, the real Rambo and the basis of every rock riff we know today. Gen Xers too, who experienced the world’s first personal computers. And Gen Yers who turned those PCs into DotCom bubbles. And smart phones.
Right now, everyone is seeing normality morph in ways unfathomable. But is there a way out particularly for our war torn 9/11ers? The answer is the same for all.
It’s time to reinvent yourself.
Reinvention is a mindset that says, there is no competition in life.
Winners and losers are mortal, no one knows the measure of their heart beats. Self-comparison with someone else, is the greatest waste of time you can indulge.
You are now at the beginning of a new productive reality. Where you take it is up to you. I once gave this advice to undergraduates, but it applies equally to all:
Spend time researching pathways to the goals you seek. But never be swayed by another person.
You will hit dead ends. You will seek to alter course, back and forward and likely back again. There is no perfect choice. The only thing you can do wrong, is give credence to the opinions of those who judge you.
Over and over again, some of our greatest minds and visionaries were told they were bad. Only a comparative few pushed on, meaning the many who stopped are our greatest tragedies.
Be you a 70 or 80-year-old who discovers you can paint, or a teen who feels you can write beyond your years, or someone who perceives ideas others can’t see; to the artists, labourers, office workers, trades, professionals and thinkers who’ve been squashed by lecturers, bosses, co-workers and critics—the answer is, push on.
Where’s the danger to all this?
As much as other people will put you down—and they will—there is no enemy more powerful than you.
Inner doubt is the villain. It will freeze you for no reason, make you cower against safety, make you re-measure your certainty and simply drive you into a premature baseless funk.
There’s an episode of my favourite TV series The West Wing where the President of the United States, wanting to spend a night reading about science, is forced instead to a concert of the Icelandic Symphony. Thing is, the backstory tells us, its feature piece was only written hours before, and the composer was nervous about the whole.
“It is not classical music if the guy finished writing it this afternoon”, the President said. Yet, at the concert’s end back at the White House, he said to his press secretary:
It was magnificent. It was genius. … I really didn’t think I could be surprised by music anymore. I thought about all the times this guy must have heard that his music was no good.
And that’s the point.
Your journey will be hard. But if you have a dream, dare to follow it. And if you have yet to find direction, then dream. Ditch pessimism as fast as you can. Rather, seek people who are unafraid to dream too. For you will inspire one another.
Trust me when I say, from the sum knowledge of people management theory, the best wisdom I can offer you about carving out ambition is this:
There is but one life you have. It is resilient. You can pick it up and dust it off many times so long as you ignore negativity and understand that unless you’re vigilant, your greatest doubter will be you.
Look forward to the world’s recovery from Covid-19. It will come. Start dreaming your part in it now.
© 2020 Adam Parker.